Wednesday, October 31, 2018

All Hallow's Eve

We always look forward to Halloween when we have a festive supper of Brother Patrick's homemade pizza. With Brother Daniel's assistance, he spends the day making sauce, chopping peppers and onions and kneading his own dough to create delicious giant pies. It is a special meal when speaking is allowed and there is candy and ice cream for dessert. After pitching in for a quick but thorough clean-up, we head to church for Compline and then to bed.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dom Thomas Keating

A little after ten in the evening on Thursday October 25, Dom Thomas Keating passed to the Lord after a long illness. He is beloved of the many monks who were formed under his direction.

One friend and fellow monk recalls that Dom Thomas’ teaching on prayer represented “the finest in the mystical Catholic tradition, with its origins in the earliest centuries of the church." Dom Thomas  brought the rich mystical contemplative tradition of the Church to many and was a leading Catholic proponent of interreligious dialogue, cultivating ties of friendship and understanding. He will be remembered by many as a much beloved friend and teacher.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Saturday of Our Lady

She is our mother, mother of our life, of our incorruption, of our light...She therefore who is the mother of Christ is the mother of our wisdom, mother of our righteousness, mother of our sanctification, mother of our redemption. Therefore, she is more our mother than the mother of our flesh. Better therefore is our birth which we derive from Mary, for from her is our holiness, our wisdom; our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption.

Scripture says, ‘Praise the Lord in his saints’. If our Lord is to be praised in those saints through whom he performs mighty works and miracles, how much more should he be praised in her in whom he fashioned himself, he who is wonderful beyond all wonder.

Details from an early Cistercian manuscript. Lines from our Cistercian Father, Saint Aelred of Rievaulx. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

His Body

The Church shares its spiritual riches with its members through its common faith, its sacraments, its Liturgy and worship, its gifts and talents and most of all in charity, the love which makes us one with Christ and one another.

The Communion of Saints represents the notion that all who are in Christ serve one another in love. As Christ’s body, the Church, we are called to communion, holy communion. Our ambition is not to glorify ourselves but to bring others to Christ. For us as monks we are not called to evangelize. Our life itself is our witness. Our prayer, silence, hospitality, charity and our joy will attract others to Christ. That is our ambition. To paraphrase the words of St. Francis of Assisi to his friars: “Preach to the people, but only use words when necessary.”

Initial from an early Cistercian manuscript. Meditation by Father Emmanuel.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Jesus said to his disciples: 
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.” Luke 12

Our work as monks is to remain constantly vigilant for the Lord's kind presence. This is the reason for our earlier rising and our return to prayer at the various hours of the day.
Photos by Joan Bennett.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

True Discipleship

At this point in their relationship with Jesus, the apostles do not truly understand what discipleship will entail. And perhaps too readily they agree to drink the "cup" of Jesus and be "baptized" with him. He is of course referring to his passion. Loving him more and more, identifying with his mission of mercy and self-gift, soon they will understand more clearly, as they see mocked and scourged and crucified.

As Father Emmanuel reminded us in his homily this morning, worldly ambition is always a temptation - seeking power and prestige and predominance. To follow Christ means to serve, just as he came to serve, not to be served. This is a lesson to be learned and re-learned here in the "school of love," that is the monastery. 

Photograph by Brother Brian.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

How do any of us, come to understand the cross as, of all things, an opportunity? How do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who, for the sake of the joy that lay before him, embraced the cross out of love, heedless of its shame? Can we imagine truly embracing the cross, embracing our own crosses? 

Saint Ignatius of Antioch had his gaze so fixed on Christ Jesus that he begged his friends not to keep him from the wild beasts who would eat him up in the Roman arena. “I will gladly die for God, if only you do not stand in my way,” he said. “I offer my life's breath for the sake of the cross…let me imitate my suffering God...I am God's wheat and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ.” Perhaps we are humbled by such ardor, but such passion is meant to be ours as well. 
Photography by Brother Brian.

Monday, October 15, 2018


As Pope Francis said yesterday during the canonization ceremony, "Jesus invites us to return to the source of joy, which is the encounter with him, the courageous choice to risk everything to follow him, the satisfaction of leaving something behind in order to embrace his way. The saints have traveled this path." Certainly this was true of Saint Teresa of Avila, whom we remember today. She tells us, "On this road of prayer it is more important to love much than to think much." We pray that we may be consumed with love for Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Detail of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Gianlorenzo Bernini.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

As we sang this hymn as the recessional at Mass this morning, we could hear echoes of Father Aquinas' homily. He admonished us to constantly put aside everything in order to follow Christ Jesus wholeheartedly. Let us make haste.

Photo by Br. Brian. Some verses from  the Gaelic hymn by Dallan Forgaill.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Our Lady on Saturday

It is our joy to celebrate this ordinary Saturday in honor of Our Lady. Saint Bernard says that above all what has drawn God to Mary is her humility. God finds it utterly irresistible. We arrive at humility by a route very different than Our Lady’s, but it can give us the same irresistible quality. We do it through, what we call in the monastery, bitter self-knowledge – the realization that we are sinners beloved by God, humbly acknowledging that we have nothing to boast of before God but our weakness. This humility allows God to be God for us, for when things fall apart we seek the only One who can restore us to wholeness, peace and joy. We rejoice because through the Virgin Mary God has chosen to be part of our fragmentation and restoration.

An etching by Margaret Walters, (1924 - 1971).

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Saint John XXIII

Image result for pope john xxiii quotes

As we remember good Pope John XXIII today, we recall his words, "If God created shadows, it was to better emphasize the light." With so much darkness in our world, we realize our longing for the Light - Christ Jesus our Lord. May His truth, the truth of self-forgetful love, move our hearts to prayer and acts of compassion and mercy.

Saint John XXIII pray for us.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Our Dependence

To test Jesus, the Pharisees pose this question, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife.” But Jesus goes back to the beginning and reveals the mystery of communion: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.” A communion of persons is possible only because of mutual help. We are not sufficient unto ourselves. We are dependent on others.

We are limited creatures, but God gives us helpers to help us bear our limitations and accept them. We see this clearly in married life but also in the common life of monks. Going one’s own way by refusing any dependence on others, is a recipe for disaster. Our Lord embraced his dependence – first, his dependence on Our Lady and Saint Joseph; then, on the companionship of his disciples, and above all, on his intimacy with his heavenly Father. We must do the same. Marriage is fruitful physically in the blessing of children but also fruitful spiritually in a partnership of life to the end. And the spiritual fruitfulness of monks is drawn out of the crucible of common life.

And so we recall a story from the Special Olympics. A group of youngsters with Down syndrome were lined up for the fifty-yard dash. Off they went, but half way down the track one of the children tripped and fell to the ground. After a few more yards, the others stopped, turned around, and went back to their fallen companion. They lifted him up, and locking arms, they all walked the rest of the way, crossing the finish line together with big grins on their faces. That is the communion of persons we will see in heaven – a communion of little children who realize their dependence, recognize the grace of God, and bear fruit in abundance. In the Eucharist we receive the greatest Helper of all, “bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh,” thanks to his mother Mary. 

Photograph by Brother Brian. Excerpts from Father Vincent's Sunday Homily.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

With Francis

Image result for saint francis and jesusJesus is consumed with love for the mission entrusted to him by his Father, and nothing can separate him or even distract him from its accomplishment. When he asks us to follow him, this is an expression of the divine pleasure to have us truly united with him in his task. Saint Francis knew that this union was the way of peace, joy and fullness of life in the midst of every conceivable trial and tribulation. Perhaps we are well aware of the distance between our level of discipleship and what Francis and the Lord Jesus hold out to us. The Lord can close the gap by the gift of his Spirit. Let us open our hearts to him. 

Meditation by Father Timothy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Angel Guardians

Many of us remember seeing this image as children. Perhaps unsophisticated or schmaltzy, it nonetheless communicates the truth of God's all enveloping care and watchfulness as embodied in the Angel Guardians.

A thousand may fall at your side,
 ten thousand fall at your right:
 you it will never approach.
Your eyes have only to look
 to see how the wicked are repaid.
 For you, O Lord, are my refuge.
 You have made the Most High your dwelling.
Upon you no evil shall fall,
 no plague approach where you dwell.
 For you has he commanded his angels
 to keep you in all your ways.
They shall bear you upon their hands,
 lest you strike your foot against a stone…
Since he clings to me in love, I will free him,
protect him, for he knows my name.   Psalm 91

Monday, October 1, 2018

With Thérèse

If you are willing to bear in peace the trial of not being pleased with yourself, you will be offering the Lord Jesus a home in your heart. It is true you will suffer, for you will feel like a stranger in your own house. But do not fear, for the poorer you are, the more Christ will love you.

We are always consoled by these words of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux; she reminds us that Jesus' power is made perfect in our weakness. How she trusted that God knows us in our smallness and frailty. Too often we try to be big, pretend to be big, when we ought to know better. God only wants our littleness and dependence on him. What a relief not to have to pretend any longer.